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Spelling Dictation Faux Pas – Part Two

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Did you miss Part 1 in the Spelling Dictation Faux Pas series? Read it now.

Let’s continue discussing the common teaching dictation errors that can slip into our presentation of new spelling words. To follow along, see your SWR book p. 75.

Faux Pas #7: Dragging out the dictation. Keep it crisp.

Do you talk a lot during dictation? Does your student ask questions in the middle of the process? Do you find your dictation is going on and on and on?

The goal is to get to the point where you can dictate one word each minute. Teaching 5 words? That should take 5 minutes. Teaching 10 words? Okay, maybe 12 minutes for that.

When you get into the higher lists and the words have more syllables, you’ll need more time per word because you’ll be doing some ear training and sound discrimination during the dictation.

This video of Endorsed SWR Trainer Heidi Thomas teaching words from List J-1 demonstrates a clean, crisp dictation of new spelling words.

Faux Pas #8: Ignoring left-to-right pattern with fingergrams, penmanship, and spelling markings.

Do not retrace underlines. Start left to cross the T or draw the bridge for silent E. Mark the spelling word in sequential order, moving from left to right.

Just like we fail to hear what we’re actually saying, we sometimes forget the student’s perspective for the teaching. Our fingers need to go up in left-to-right sequence…from the student’s perspective. That means it’ll be backwards for us.

Habits run deep. When writing in cursive, do you cross your T’s and dot your I’s by moving from the end of a word back to the beginning? This is backwards eye tracking for your student. When you’re teaching reading and writing, you’re training the student’s brain, and backwards eye tracking works against you. Change your habits to help your student.

Faux Pas #9: Allowing the student to write new words without saying each sound softly as he writes.

Some students will fight you on this one. It has to be an automatic instruction each time he goes to write: “Say it while you write it.” Stick with this!

I’ve had students over and over forget to write a letter or even a syllable. As soon as they speak the sounds WHILE writing, they remember to write the symbols for those sounds.

Faux Pas #10: Letting the student mark his word before he proofreads from the teacher’s work.

Ah, this “rushing to beat the teacher” is especially common with older students who already have some reading and writing experience. I had a student once who refused to wait until the class had worked through a word. He wanted to mark his words as soon as he had written it. Time after time after time he had to erase and start over because he had marked things incorrectly. He finally understood that he needed to wait until we had processed the word, from the beginning to the end, before he could mark the word correctly.

Remember, the markings are there to help reinforce the rules and phonograms. When a student doesn’t process those orally with the teacher, lots of learning is missed. It’s not merely an issue of knowing THAT something needs to be underlined or a number is to be added, but more importantly, it’s WHY we would do that.

Click here for Part Three of this series in which we look at the last three common teaching errors.

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